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How Not to Struggle With Negative Experiences

How Not to Struggle With Negative Experiences

Life is hard — way harder than anyone thought it would be. When you were younger, you dreamed of the world being your playground, and you were told that you could do anything and be anyone you wanted. Somehow, though, things haven’t been the smooth sailing you wanted them to be. The world seems to conspire against you, and the last thing you want to hear is “Cheer up!”

Still, there are a couple things you might not notice about your situation. Next time you’re down, maybe the following will provide motivation:

Not everything is bad.

It’s a well accepted fact that bad news makes for sensational television ratings. The fact that something is negative catches a lot more attention than something positive in the same vein, and that’s because it’s easy to see things in a negative light. However, that should not distract you from the bigger picture.

Resist the tunnel vision that results from constant negativity. Remember that even though there’s a lot of really nasty stuff going on, you’re surrounded by some pretty awesome stuff, as well.

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Other people aren’t you.

No one likes being compared to another person. What makes it even worse, if that’s even possible, is when you do it to yourself.

“Sarah and I were in the same graduating class, but she’s a successful business owner and I am not” is essentially mental suicide. Every experience in any person’s life is like rolling a handful of dice. You don’t get the same kind of dice, the same amount of them, or the same number of re-rolls as anyone else because everyone else is not you! Sarah rolled ten sixes, and you only rolled seven.

“Sarah is therefore better than me!” you might say. To be fair, she may have something over you — in that specific instance. However, you still rolled seven sixes! That’s an insanely high number, and you did well rolling it.

Stop comparing yourself to another person and you will realize that you are way more awesome than you give yourself credit for.

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Failure isn’t where the game stops.

So you tried something new, but you didn’t follow through. Frustrated at yourself, you stop trying. As a result, your quality of life goes down immensely. You’ve given up on it, though, because you don’t see the point (since you failed the first time).

Now, look at that same story again. But this time, set the main character as a 5-year-old version of yourself. The outcome is very different, I bet: Your younger self tried to do a thing, failed, and then tried it a different way until he or she figured out how it worked. There were surely many, many failures along the way, but that version of you didn’t see failure as the end of the road.

Now, you’re an adult. The things you are trying are much more complicated than 5-year-old you. However, your behaviour should not change in the slightest — when you fail at something, that’s just more information in your data bank. You know that method does not work, so try another one! And another one after that! Do this until you figure it out.

Giving up is for lesser beings, and you sure aren’t one of those.

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The past is way back there.

There is not a human alive or dead that has never made a choice they regret. Whether it was something so small as a purchase you later decided was a bad idea, or something gargantuan, like the weird tryst you had with the foreign exchange student during Club Rush in sophomore year, it’s there. And you’re treating it like a big, swollen thumb.

Knock that off immediately and you will see just how much your life improves. The most important thing to take away from this idea is that your past is not what makes you who you are. The things that happened to you way back there are just that — in the past. You cannot change what happened to you, but you can definitely change how it affects you in the present and whether it will dictate who you are in the future.

You are alive right now, and right now is all you get. You can’t go back, and the future is coming at its own pace. Don’t worry about the other two points — this one, right now, is the important one.

Everything that happens in your life is valuable.

My personal life’s philosophy can be summed up in one sentence: No experience is a wasted one if it leads to a story you can tell.

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Did you get kicked out of your apartment and have to spend three weeks living in your car while you tried to find a new place? Story time. Did your bank account get stolen by a scammer and used to purchase a yacht? Story time. Did you lose your best friend to a petty squabble, and now you won’t even talk any more? Story bloody time! The stuff that seems bad now is the stuff you will tell stories about in the future.

I cannot stress this enough: Everything in your life gives you purpose somehow, even if it’s something terrible. It is up to you to decide exactly which stories to tell — but your responsibility lies first in getting the stories to happen so that you can tell them. Every story needs conflict, needs adverse contact with some negative force. That way, when the good bits are there, you really know that they are the good bits because they compare to the other bits of your story and give it perspective.

It’s all about perspective.

See your life through your own eyes.

If you let someone else tell you your life is terrible, then you might as well believe them. Never, ever take that from another living being. Your life belongs to you, so you get to decide whether it’s good or not. You may not always get the exact things you are looking for when you come to the temple, but the temple welcomes you anyway, and you cannot deny its hospitality.

Of course, negative things happen. Of course, they are terrible and dreadful. But, maybe, those negative experiences are the real link between the happy and the sad.

Featured photo credit: bryan… via flickr.com

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Published on May 4, 2021

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

They say we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. For a minute, consider the people around you. Are they truly who your “tribe” should be or who you aspire to become in the future? Are they really genuine people who want to see you succeed? Or are they fake people who don’t really want to see you happy?

In this article, I’ll review why it is important to surround yourself with genuine individuals—the ones who care, bring something to our table, and first and foremost, who leave all fakeness behind.

How to Spot Fake People?

When you’ve been working in the helping professions for a while, spotting fake people gets a bit easier. There are some very clear signs that the person you are looking at is hiding something, acting somehow, or simply wanting to get somewhere. Most often, there is a secondary gain—perhaps attention, sympathy, or even a promotion.

Whatever it is, you’re better off working their true agenda and staying the hell away. Here are some things you should look out for to help spot fake people.

1. Full of Themselves

Fake people like to show off. They love looking at themselves in the mirror. They collect photos and videos of every single achievement they had and every part of their body and claim to be the “best at what they do.”

Most of these people are actually not that good in real life. But they act like they are and ensure that they appear better than the next person. The issue for you is that you may find yourself always feeling “beneath” them and irritated at their constant need to be in the spotlight.

2. Murky in Expressing Their Emotions

Have you ever tried having a deep and meaningful conversation with a fake person? It’s almost impossible. It’s because they have limited emotional intelligence and don’t know how they truly feel deep down—and partly because they don’t want to have their true emotions exposed, no matter how normal these might be.

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It’s much harder to say “I’m the best at what I do” while simultaneously sharing “average” emotions with “equal” people.

3. Zero Self-Reflection

To grow, we must accept feedback from others. We must be open to our strengths and to our weaknesses. We must accept that we all come in different shapes and can always improve.

Self-reflection requires us to think, forgive, admit fault, and learn from our mistakes. But to do that, we have to be able to adopt a level of genuineness and depth that fake people don’t routinely have. A fake person generally never apologizes, but when they do, it is often followed with a “but” in the next breath.

4. Unrealistic Perceptions

Fake people most often have an unrealistic perception of the world—things that they want to portray to others (pseudo achievements, materialistic gains, or a made-up sense of happiness) or simply how they genuinely regard life outside themselves.

A lot of fake people hide pain, shame, and other underlying reasons in their behavior. This could explain why they can’t be authentic and/or have difficulties seeing their environment for the way it objectively is (both good and bad).

5. Love Attention

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest sign that something isn’t quite right with someone’s behavior can be established by how much they love attention. Are you being interrupted every time you speak by someone who wants to make sure that the spotlight gets reverted back to them? Is the focus always on them, no matter the topic? If yes, you’re probably dealing with a fake person.

6. People Pleaser

Appreciation feels nice but having everyone like you is even better. While it is completely unrealistic for most people to please everyone all the time, fake people seem to always say yes in pursuit of constant approval.

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Now, this is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, these people are simply saying yes to things for their own satisfaction. Secondly, they often end up changing their minds or retracting their offer for one reason or another (“I would have loved to, but my grandmother suddenly fell ill.”), leaving you in the lurch for the 100th time this year.

7. Sarcasm and Cynicism

Behind the chronic pasted smile, fake people are well known for brewing resentment, jealousy, or anger. This is because, behind the postcard life, they are often unhappy. Sarcasm and cynicism are well known to act as a defense mechanism, sometimes even a diversion—anything so they can remain feeling on top of the world, whether it is through boosting themselves or bringing people down.

8. Crappy friend

Fake people are bad friends. They don’t listen to you, your feelings, and whatever news you might have to share. In fact, you might find yourself migrating away from them when you have exciting or bad news to share, knowing that it will always end up one way—their way. In addition, you might find that they’re not available when you truly need them or worse, cancel plans at the last minute.

It’s not unusual to hear that a fake person talks constantly behind people’s backs. Let’s be honest, if they do it to others, they’re doing it to you too. If your “friend” makes you feel bad constantly, trust me, they’re not achieving their purpose, and they’re simply not a good person to have around.

The sooner you learn to spot these fake people, the sooner you can meet meaningful individuals again.

How to Cope With Fake People Moving Forward?

It is important to remind yourself that you deserve more than what you’re getting. You are worthy, valuable, precious, and just as important as the next person.

There are many ways to manage fake people. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.

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1. Boundaries

Keep your boundaries very clear. As explained in the book Unlock Your Resilience, boundaries are what keep you sane when the world tries to suffocate you. When fake people become emotional vampires, make sure to keep your distances, limit contact, and simply replace them with more valuable interactions.

2. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

Sadly, they most likely have behaved this way before they knew you and will continue much longer after you have moved on. It isn’t about you. It is about their inner need to meet a void that you are not responsible for. And in all honesty, unless you are a trained professional, you are unlikely to improve it anyway.

3. Be Upfront and Honest About How You Feel

If your “friend” has been hurtful or engaged in behaviors you struggle with, let them know—nicely, firmly, however you want, but let them know that they are affecting you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll feel better and when you’re ready to move on, you’ll know you tried to reach out. Your conscience is clear.

4. Ask for Advice

If you’re unsure about what you’re seeing or feeling, ask for advice. Perhaps a relative, a good friend, or a colleague might have some input as to whether you are overreacting or seeing some genuine concerns.

Now, don’t confuse asking for advice with gossiping behind the fake person’s back because, in the end, you don’t want to stoop down to their level. However, a little reminder as to how to stay on your own wellness track can never hurt.

5. Dig Deeper

Now, this one, I offer with caution. If you are emotionally strong, up to it, guaranteed you won’t get sucked into it, and have the skills to manage, perhaps you could dig into the reasons a fake person is acting the way they do.

Have they suffered recent trauma? Have they been rejected all their lives? Is their self-esteem so low that they must resort to making themselves feel good in any way they can? Sometimes, having an understanding of a person’s behavior can help in processing it.

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6. Practice Self-Care!

Clearly, putting some distance between the fake person and yourself is probably the way to go. However, sometimes, it takes time to get there. In the meantime, make sure to practice self-care, be gentle with yourself, and compensate with lots of positives!

Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot shower after talking to them or declining an invitation when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

Spotting fake people isn’t too hard. They generally glow with wanna-be vibes. However, most often, there are reasons as to why they are like this. Calling their behavior might be the first step. Providing them with support might be the second. But if these don’t work, it’s time to stay away and surround yourself with the positivity that you deserve.

Final Thoughts

Remember that life is a rollercoaster. It has good moments, tough moments, and moments you wouldn’t change for the world. So, look around and make sure that you take the time to choose the right people to share it all with.

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so take a good look around and choose wisely!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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